Young people from Asian communities across Yorkshire came together last Friday to celebrate a Rugby League Cares project which has made the sport more accessible than ever before.
Run in partnership with the Kirklees-based 20:20 Foundation and the Bradford Bulls Rugby Foundation, ‘Connecting Communities’ has given a first taste of rugby league to hundreds of boys and girls as well as adults who the sport has traditionally found hard to reach.
Over the last 12 months, Connecting Communities has taken Rugby League into schools, youth groups and community centres across large parts of West Yorkshire and provided opportunities for participants to experience the thrill of watching Super League and international matches.
Sport England funding for the project ends on Friday and to mark what is widely regarded as a sporting success story for both rugby league and the diverse Asian communities that it has engaged, participants took part in a bumper participation session at The Zone in Huddersfield before attending the Huddersfield Giants v Leeds Rhinos fixture.
Rugby League Cares Programme Manager Chris Rankin-Wright said: “Friday was a great opportunity to bring together each of the three different geographical strands of Connecting Communities and celebrate what has been an extremely successful 12 months.
“We’ve made huge strides in the last year and have learnt a significant amount about the various ways in which people can engage with rugby league from those local communities engaged so far.
“It’s been a sharp learning curve for everyone and, more importantly, hugely enjoyable for all. The communities we have reached have developed a rich understanding about rugby league and we have been able to learn more about their needs and expectations.
“The leaders involved in delivering the Connecting Communities programme will now begin writing up project reports for completion by early-May, when the process of evaluation will take place.”
Rugby League Cares is now exploring future opportunities to sustain and grow the levels of participation developed so far so that many more people can continue to benefit from great rugby league experiences.